Great Scotland Yard

The original home of the Metropolitan Police, the Grade-II listed Great Scotland Yard building has been transformed into a luxury lifestyle hotel. Opening in the Summer of 2019, the hotel is set to become a London landmark in its own right and has devoted itself to displaying artworks from some of the best contemporary talent in Britain. Original works by leading artists including Nicola Green, Cornelia Parker, Ally Mackie, Ann Carrington, Marcus Hodge and Piers Bourke can be seen at the new hotel, as well as ceramics and sculpture created by serving prisoners working with The Koestler Trust.

The new owners of the hotel have commissioned artists that can tell the building’s story through visual imagery. They sought out Nicola Green to create a work that could anchor the entire project based on her reputation for taking on ambitious projects of social-historical importance. Green’s powerful storytelling ability, and her propensity for capturing the essence of her subject made her the perfect artist to tell the story of Great Scotland Yard. Green’s major work for this project is SERVICE a large scale piece which will hang in the hotel lobby. Green has also created a portrait for the Forty Elephants Bar, and series of prints for the bedrooms and bathrooms.

Service

 

Please click the icons below for more information on each sitter:

Service is a bold installation commissioned by the Great Scotland Yard Hotel for permanent exhibition in the Entrance Hall.

The original home of the Metropolitan Police, the Grade-II listed Great Scotland Yard building has been transformed into a luxury lifestyle hotel. Opening in the Summer of 2019, the hotel is set to become a London landmark in its own right and has devoted itself to displaying artworks from some of the best contemporary talent in Britain. Original works by leading artists including Nicola Green, Cornelia Parker, Ally Mackie, Ann Carrington, Marcus Hodge and Piers Bourke can be seen at the new hotel, as well as ceramics and sculpture created by serving prisoners working with The Koestler Trust.

The new owners, Abu Dhabi based LuLu Group, sought out Nicola Green based on her international reputation as a powerful storyteller, and her ability to capture the essence of her subjects - be it Barack Obama, The Dalai Lama or The Pope. SERVICE encompasses thirty portraits, each of whom were judiciously selected by Green, in order to tell the incredible history of Great Scotland Yard.

The diverse subjects include Jack the Ripper, Myra Hindley, and Ronnie Kray; Queen Victoria, Sir Robert Peel and Charles Dickens; and Theresa May, David Lammy and Judge Rinder - amongst many others. Green has also depicted some of the unsung heroes, the trailblazers who have fought for a fairer and more equal Britain, preserving their legacy for the future.

The portraits reference the iconic police ‘mugshot’ – and this is accentuated by the curation, reminiscent of a police station’s ‘rogues gallery’. By representing the subjects in this way, each sitter looks like a potential suspect, whether or not this is, in fact, true. In juxtaposition to this, Green has taken the traditional medium of portraiture, the archetypal depiction of the rich and powerful, and applied it to members of all social strata, creating an equality of status among her chosen subjects. In this work, Green is challenging our preconceptions of race, gender and power, making the viewer contemplate who we consider criminal in our society.

Each portrait has been carefully designed, with varying stages of complexity. Green has experimented with form, reducing visual cues such as profile, gesture and stance to the minimum required to maintain the essence of the sitter. The final result is a deceptively simple portrait, sometimes purely a linear outline or silhouette - yet still recognisable to the viewer.

These hang alongside multilayered, bitmapped reconstructions of photographs, etchings and paintings. In some of these images, the faces of the sitters are masked and all that can be seen is the regalia, the uniform, or the gowns and wigs associated with the subjects’ role. In mixing these mediums the boundaries of identity become blurred. The audience are invited to consider assumed hierarchies, or prejudice about each subject -  a theme which runs through all of Green’s work.

Each of the striking portraits is encased within a glowing Quasar Frame™. The Quasar Frames™ are a pioneering way of displaying images, which produce a beautiful glow as if powered by electricity. However, the frames produce this remarkable light without the need for power. They are an environmentally sustainable alternative to other methods of visual communication. The result is a dramatic statement which transforms any space.

Green has also been commissioned to create works for the hotel’s bar, bedrooms and bathrooms, and these, alongside the works by the other artists, will contribute to establishing this unique London venue as a cutting-edge exhibition space, and a must-see destination for art lovers, hotel guests and visitors alike.

 

Millbank and Spike

Each of the Great Scotland Yard bedrooms has been individually curated so that every room has become a micro-gallery, featuring several artworks including a series of prints by Nicola Green. Developing the themes explored within the lobby work, SERVICE, and inspired by the story of Great Scotland Yard, Green researched the history of crime, punishment and prisons in London.

As with all her work, the process of creating the bedroom prints began with further meticulous research  that led to her discovering floor plans from the historic Millbank Prison, which operated from 1816 -1890, just a stone's throw from Great Scotland Yard.

The Millbank plans are in a six-point pentagram shape inspired by Jeremy Bentham’s designs for the Panopticon – an institutional building structured so that all inmates would be seen at all times without exception.  To the discerning viewer this image represents the severity of Victorian prisons, with draconian methods of crime and punishment and constant surveillance. At first glance, this blueprint could be mistaken for a decorative geometric pattern, a star or a floral design. It is the juxtaposition of such a pleasing image, with a more disturbing history, that makes this image so powerful.

Green also created a motif using a traditional police helmet, reflecting  the pentagram shape of the Millbank series. She has transformed both the floor plans and helmets by reducing the images to their most essential line and form, creating deceptively simple graphic shapes. The bedroom works are Giclée fine art digital prints. They have been printed using the highest quality pigments and paper, creating a richness of colour to the warm jewelled palette. This has been embellished with 24k gold and metal leaf applied by hand.

 
 

Bob Haired Bandit

Installed above the fireplace within the grand Forty Elephants Bar is Nicola Green’s Bob Haired Bandit.

The Bob Haired Bandit features Lillian Rose Goldstein (née Kendall) a key member of the notorious Forty Elephants Gang. The Forty Elephants were active throughout the 19th and 20th century, but their heyday was in the interwar period. The gang operated from the Elephant and Castle District, allied to the Elephant and Castle Mob. They raided quality stores in the West End of London, they wore expensive looking clothing which was modified to include hidden pockets, concealing their loot in their coats, cummerbunds, muffs, skirts, bloomers, and hats. They took advantage of Victorian sensibilities and prudish attitudes towards women’s bodies

The gang  specialised in shoplifting luxury items such as diamond jewellery and furs. In the 1920s they began mimicking the decadent lifestyles of ‘the bright young things’. They started using getaway vehicles - Goldstein was a daring driver specialising in ‘smash and grabs’ and on several occasions, she used her car as a way to ram store fronts such as Cartier’s on Bond Street. Green was inspired by a description of Alice Diamond, the leader of the Forty Elephants, as the Queen who reigned from prison. The Forty Elephants challenge societal ideas of traditional gender roles, and the assumptions we make when we think about criminals. This led the artist to consider the relationship between crime, gender and leadership. There is much more to Lillian Goldstein than meets the eye - behind her overtly feminine appearance is an incredibly nuanced character and an interesting interplay between masculinity and femininity; both brutal and tender at the same time, making a captivating image.

This work is a 5-colour silkscreen print, inspired by a glamorous headshot of Goldstein. The print has been hand painted with oils and embellished with diamond dust to accentuate the luxuriousness of the Goldstein’s - likely stolen - furs and jewellery.

 
 
BOB HAIR BANDIT Final framed.jpg